MAY 28, 2017 8:55 AM PDT

Humans Accidentally Created a Protective Bubble Around the Earth

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

When it comes to the impact humans have had on the Earth, the evidence spans much further than just the surface, but also the outer space surrounding our lovely planet.

Not only have we sent so much space junk into orbit around our planet, but we’ve also discovered that our use of VLF (very low frequency) radio equipment is interacting with our magnetic field to form a set of protective bubbles around our planet that shield us from different forms of cosmic radiation.

An illustration of the protective bubble caused by VLF radio equipment that surrounds and protects the Earth.

Image Credit: NASA

The discovery, made in part by NASA's Van Allen probes, was published in the journal Space Science Reviews.

Related: Did a solar storm damage the Earth's magnetic field?

VLF equipment is stationed on the surface of our planet and is used to beam high-power radio frequencies deep within our oceans to communicate with our submarines. On the other hand, whole most of this radio frequency makes it where it needs to go, some of it makes it into the atmosphere and beyond.

Probing into how these protective VLF bubbles impacts charged particles from space, researchers have discovered that our man-made shield actually influences how and where they travel, effectively moving them away from our planet.

“A number of experiments and observations have figured out that, under the right conditions, radio communications signals in the VLF frequency range can in fact affect the properties of the high-energy radiation environment around the Earth,” said Phil Erickson, assistant director at the MIT Haystack Observatory, Westford, Massachusetts.

These bubbles can be seen not only from the surface of the Earth, but also from the satellites that are orbiting our planet.

Interestingly, the bubbles have only increased in size as our planet became more active in the arts of VLF transmission. Several decades ago, when the use of VLF equipment wasn’t as common, the bubble was much smaller and did less to protect our planet when compared to today.

The research is inspiring enough that experts in the field would like to perform tests higher up in the atmosphere to see if VLF equipment can be used to remove excess charged particles and radiation from the Earth’s atmosphere during times of higher solar activity. 

Related: The Earth's magnetic field is cracked, so are we in danger?

It ought to be interesting to see what becomes of this research. Perhaps we’re onto something that could extend the life of our planet and our expensive satellites from radiation coming from the great beyond.

Source: NASA

About the Author
Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
AUG 06, 2022
Chemistry & Physics
JWST Captures the Cartwheel Galaxy in Detail
AUG 06, 2022
JWST Captures the Cartwheel Galaxy in Detail
On December 25, 2021, the most expensive telescope, James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) ever built was launched ...
AUG 09, 2022
Space & Astronomy
The Square Kilometer Array: Soon to be the World's Biggest Radio Telescope
AUG 09, 2022
The Square Kilometer Array: Soon to be the World's Biggest Radio Telescope
The Square Kilometer Array Observatory (SKAO) will soon be the largest radio telescope in the world. Construction on the ...
AUG 16, 2022
Space & Astronomy
Lunar IceCube Will Hitch a Ride on Artemis 1
AUG 16, 2022
Lunar IceCube Will Hitch a Ride on Artemis 1
NASA’s Lunar IceCube is one of several CubeSats hitching a ride to the Moon on Artemis 1. CubeSats are efficient a ...
AUG 24, 2022
Space & Astronomy
New Technology Takes Us Up Close with Black Holes
AUG 24, 2022
New Technology Takes Us Up Close with Black Holes
In a recent study published in The Astrophysical Journal, an international collaboration of researchers use computer mod ...
SEP 09, 2022
Space & Astronomy
Remembering Frank Drake, Pioneer in the Search for Alien Life
SEP 09, 2022
Remembering Frank Drake, Pioneer in the Search for Alien Life
Frank Drake, the legendary astronomer who pioneered the modern search for intelligent life in the Universe, passed away ...
OCT 16, 2022
Space & Astronomy
Astrobiology and Broccoli Gas
OCT 16, 2022
Astrobiology and Broccoli Gas
In a recent study published in The Astrophysical Journal, a team of researchers led by the University of California at R ...
Loading Comments...